Introduction to Local Food Systems
The local production and marketing of food has reached a critical mass in the past few years. Increasingly, people are searching out food that not only is flavorful, healthy and safe but that also supports their local community. Farmers are working hard to meet that demand and are taking advantage of the economic opportunities community-based, or local, food systems provide. Many farmers, particularly mid-sized (often called ?farmers of the middle?) and small-scale producers, find that producing for and selling into a community-based food system is one of the only options left for them, as they lack the scale or financial resources to compete in a larger market. In recognition of the importance of local food systems, the U.S. Department of Agriculture developed the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative aimed at strengthening the relationships between farmers and consumers throughout the United States. This guide explores the concept of local food systems and provides resources to help farmers, consumers and communities develop food systems that provide for profitable, thriving farms and businesses; steward our natural resources; and strengthen community relationships in rural and urban Missouri.